Making sense of the enormous amount of student data in any classroom or school is probably the biggest challenge we face individually and in our school communities. Here you'll find everything from one-page templates created by teachers for use in their classrooms to videos of staff teams poring over large data sets. We don't have all the answers, but we do provide tools to help you ask better questions as you evaluate students and talk about assessments with your colleagues.
Students are always watching us, whether we realize it or not. Jennifer Schwanke explains how we can capitalize on that interest to build independent reading and writing habits.
Melanie Meehan uses independence bulletin boards to provide students with options when working on their own during units of study.
Gigi McAllister is disappointed by the shallow and unexpected responses by her fourth graders to literacy rubrics at the end of the year. The experience sends her on a quest to do a better job of helping her students learn to set goals and understand what measurable progress looks like over time.
Bitsy Parks finds goals aren’t enough for her first-grade students—real growth requires that the goals eventually become habits. She develops a process mid-year to help children refine their goals step-by-step.
Setting small-group goals can be tricky, and the complexity is compounded when you are working with English language learners. Kate Mills explains her goal-setting process with K-3 ELLs, and gives examples of how it works.
Bitsy Parks discovers that the best way to relaunch literacy workshops in January after holiday break is to have her first graders reflect on and celebrate what they learned in the fall with personal anchor charts.
Christy Rush-Levine considers how her rubrics do not acknowledge different levels of support some students need to accomplish tasks. She rethinks her rubric design to include support, and in the process fosters more independence and reflection in students.
Matt Renwick explains why sometimes the best way to grow reading abilities in students is to resist rubrics.
Mark Levine always has a few students each year in his middle school classroom who are stunned by their poor grades, even when they clearly aren't meeting expectations. He develops a rubric to enable students to monitor and reflect on their learning behaviors daily.
Stephanie Affinito explains how to use student checklists in literacy intervention.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills combine an engagement inventory and an on-demand writing assessment to get a full picture of skills and habits in their classroom community.
Mary Lee Hahn tries to be super teacher while she confers — juggling goals, assessments, notices and notes . . . and then it all comes crashing down. She shares what she learns from trying to do too much at once and failing.
Stephanie Affinito tells everyone at a staff meeting to write their weights and ages on sticky notes so that she can post the numbers for the group to view. When teachers balk at the request, she has the perfect opening to discuss why focusing on levels in classrooms is a bad idea.
Melanie Meehan finds that student-designed development cards are a great way to get students invested in literacy goals.
Kate Mills and Tara Barnett provide some practical tips for connecting students and goals.
Melanie Meehan shares the value of assessing what students know first, and then tapping into this knowledge in new units.
Carly Ullmer assesses how she can give consistent and meaningful feedback to every one of her many middle school students at least once a week.
Melanie Meehan shares some ways teachers can press the pause button in the midst of teaching to assess whether they are teaching the right lesson at the right time.
On-demand writing can be a stressful assessment task for students, but it does mimic the type of writing many adults face in their professional lives. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills work with students to create an on-demand writing checklist.
Christy Rush-Levine uses a quick assessment during writing workshop conferences to connect expert students with peers who might need assistance. She includes a video example of the practice.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a jot lot to turn students’ notes on their learning into instructional plans and assessment.
Gigi McAllister gives a brief explanation of how her thinking on goal setting has changed, as well as the ways she uses student goals to connect with parents.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the process of helping students set weekly goals and then reflect on their progress every Friday.
Mark Levine uses the “daily record” to encourage reflection throughout each day’s workshop in his social studies classroom.
Carly Ullmer transfers a messy goal-setting protocol to her seventh graders, and in the process finds they take on more accountability for individual success.
Gigi McAllister has her fourth graders consider what makes a reading goal measurable.
Melanie Meehan shares a wealth of ideas for better goal-setting with students.
Bitsy Parks has her first graders complete a quick reading reflection before a share session early in the school year.
Carly Ullmer ponders what it means to take risks in her middle school classroom as she and her students experiment with different response options.
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